Madagascar Chameleon Has Shortest Life on 4 Legs

Furcifer labordi dies about a year after it's conceived—and 16-20 weeks out of shell
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2008 10:18 AM CDT
A chameleon in Madagascar.   ((c) Jean-Louis Vandevivère)
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(Newser) – A small chameleon native to Madagascar looks to own the world record for shortest life span for a creature with four legs and a backbone, the New York Times reports. The Furcifer labordi dies about a year after conception, with just 16-20 weeks on earth after it leaves its shell. The lizard's brief existence may provide scientists with valuable information on aging.

The chameleons eat so many insects that “that they practically grow in front of your very eyes,” says one scientist. By the end of the season, they fall from the trees like leaves, says another. Researchers are hoping to pinpoint the genes or hormones that cause the chameleon's quick death and then control similar biological functions in humans.